REFLECTION: Here’s something I’ve been observing for some time now. When I am out and about in public places – shopping the markets, gathering at festivals or theaters, or simply walking down the street – I’m looking at peoples’ faces and noticing their expressions. Do they appear happy, sad, indifferent, concerned? What emotion do they present to the world without even knowing they’re communicating?
I made a point of watching expressions on my July visit to Disneyworld. You would think if there’s any place on earth where you might expect to see smile after smile, and one set of sparkling eyes after another, it would be there. However, that was far from the case.
Sure, people cracked their smiles for the camera, but if you just watched the expressions on the faces as folks ambled down the streets of the Magic Kingdom, smiles were running at about 5% of the population. Even half hearted expressions of contentment were only running in the 25% range. The rest of the expressions ranged somewhere between numbly neutral and tersely tense.
ACTION: Take a look for yourself. See what you notice on the faces of those you pass as you go about your business today.
Even more importantly, pause to check your own reflection in the mirror or a window. What do others see when they meet you on the street or pass you in the hall?
There is no reliable evidence to prove the old saying that it takes more muscles to frown than smile (see mythbuster link in Resources of the Week). However, there is research that shows people do respond in kind to the the facial expressions they encounter.
So what would it take to raise the smile quotient and lighten the mood in your corner of this overloaded world of ours? Apparently it’s not that complicated. Just be the first to flash a grin and stay tuned for the chain reaction.
PS – CHALLENGE TIME: August is the month to e-mail me a photo of your best smile – or someone else’s best smile. I’ll pull together a photo collage to brighten everyone’s day. To prime the smile pump, I’ve posted a couple of favorite grins to my blog. Check them out. Can’t wait to see your contributions!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Here’s the inside scoop on the Muscles To Smile Myth in a web posting called ‘Happiness Is Only Grin Deep‘.
READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s message, Perfunctory, Pause reader ML writes: I love your newsletter. It brought to mind today that it is important to create moments with the people in our lives, whether it’s our spouse, work colleague, or the person at our local market who rings up our groceries.
I changed my way of interacting several years ago, by asking “How is your day going?” instead of “How are you?” It always seems to stop people in the moment and usually brings a smile to their face. They talk to me about what’s happening for them, rather than responding in the auto-pilot manner of “Fine, thank you. How are you?” When they answer, I give them my full attention. After they tell me about their life in the moment we are sharing, they almost always ask me “How is your day going?” That brings a smile to my face, too.
Sometimes an entire conversation is created. Other times it’s simply an acknowledgement that we are two human beings in a momentary relationship. It’s a wonderful experience to connect iith each other for that moment. For what is life anyway? A series of connected moments.